My first preaching class, in 1998, was a disaster. All of us were told that we would be video-taped. Big VHS cameras, thick black ropes of wires, and a huge tripod were set in the aisle of the chapel to tape us as we attempted, poorly, to make sense of an assigned passage.
I remember mine was from the Gospel of Mark. I wrote the homily quickly, but I had literally beet red hives and chest pains from the thought of being filmed. I stayed up all night that first time, drank a ton of coffee, and did my 10 minute homily in 6 minutes flat. I didn’t faint, but oh—it was close.
Televangelism was frowned upon by my professors. I met a few TV pastors back then—Robert Schuller and more—and I thought, Oh heck, no. My required video-taping tortures were bad enough, but to be in front of a camera, every time? To do that with intention, with regularity? No, God, I said. No.
It was pure irony to me that by 2007 I was filmed weekly in worship for a local public access channel. After a few months, I forgot about the camera and just did my thing. Occasionally, someone would mention it and I would shake my head and move on.
And now? Now, God is laughing at me. Busting a gut. Because I am not only “on” every Sunday, but multiple times a week. My You Tube vlogs, Facebook Lives, and more—it’s part of being a pastor in 2020. I admit, I have learned several things from the past 22 years.
1. Hives only make you itch. Benadryl helps.
2. I still don’t like preaching from Mark.
3. Bob Schuller was right—the future was and is video.
4. God has a sense of humor. Don’t tempt God.
5. In the end, we do what we have to do, to do what we must.
So, I am a televangelist. Who knew? God did. I’m working on camera angles, sound, lighting and concise diction. I watch other pastors and shamelessly look at their backgrounds and quality of filming. In the end, video is simply God’s new way to spread the Gospel. I have stopped fighting my own insecurities and accepted it. The Church has finally caught up to our current culture in 2020.
I wonder what on earth I will be doing in 2030. Instead of telling God “no” now, I will leave my mind open. I pray you do, too. The Church needs more open minds and willingness to meet people where they are, and not where we think they should be. This is not a time to say “no.” This is a perfect time to ask God, what’s next?